Nadia drove us expertly to the airport in Florence,
Where we waited twice in line to check bags.
The airport is too small to take them early.
Had lunch at a ratty little snack bar.
In Paris, we rode a bus to another terminal,
Went through passport check and security again,
Waited in line forty minutes to board a huge Airbus,
Then spent seven hours crammed into a tiny space.
Welcomed to the bureaucratic horrors
Of returning to our native country,
We waited forty-five minutes in line
For a passport check, whatever that was.
Next time we travel overseas, if we do,
I will put Barbara in a wheelchair
To avoid having her stand and walk so much,
And also ace the waiting lines.
Fortunately, we were spared the indignity
Of a baggage search, at four in the morning.
Then we proceeded to the Boston Airport Hilton
For a much-needed return to civilization.
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Monday, August 10, 2009
The expense of the whole trip was unknown to us
Until the penultimate week before our visit.
Our British leader had remained incommunicado,
Pleading stress on the job and lack of time.
If we had known the total, we would never have gone.
We were charged for two rooms which we really did
Insult was added to injury with nuisance charges for
gas and elecricity.
Fortunately, the group expenses for food were
When I complained about the noise, we were removed
To the penthouse suite, a more felicitous location.
Thereupon I accepted graciously the added expense,
As we could retreat early for quiet and sleep.
Thus we missed the uproar when the fridge
Shorted out and blew out all the lights.
And also missed the late night tantrums, when whoever
Was denied whatever he or she wanted at the moment.
Hardest for us was to be at the mercy of others
For transportation to all venues, save Arezzo.
Stuffed into the rear seat of a van,
We saw more of banks and supermarkets than we
The final dinner at a ristorante in Poppi was a
At our end of the table, everyone acted out
Until we could stand it no more,
And left the table to view the lights in the surrounding
Thursday, August 6, 2009
All of us convoy to Siena, a lengthy drive.
Forced to park at the Stazione di Treni,
I repeat and repeat, take the bus.
Finally everyone listens, and we do,
Grinding slowly to the centro storico.
Amidst hordes of turistici, we wade through
the narrow streets,
Clamber up the steep stairs to Santa Caterina,
Wait in line in the hot sun to enter
Into a dark nave with magnificent art treasures
And view the fabulous frescos in
the Piccolomini Library.
We find a dark, cool cave to have a leisurely lunch:
Antipasto, zuppe pomodoro, tagliatelle con
Then explore the vast outdoor mall on the Via Citta,
Buying crosses, earrings, souvenirs.
Rendezvous in the Piazza del Campo, home to the
famous horse race.
Thousands are here, in various disarray.
The Principessa insists on climbing the tower,
Thus delaying our departure for an hour.
The hot days send us to pool.
The commune unravels for a time,
Then reassembles on a schedule of tasks.
Sightseeing trips are organized into separate parties.
We have seen the Castelo in Poppi,
Barbara to the Uffizzi in Firenze,
Patrick to the mountain monastery of Camaldoli,
We escape together for a train trip to Arezzo.
Inspecting the art in all the churches,
Puzzling over Marian worship in Annunziata,
Sitting in the Vasari loggia,
Awestruck at the decorative paintings in his house.
Lunch at Buca di Francesco,
Where we dined with the Smiths in 2000.
Unable to find a taxi from Poppi to return to Borgo,
A kind lady in her Alimentari calls one.
A little gnome chauffeurs us to the festa in Borgo.
We walk through a lengthy mercato and art show
to the villa.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Renting a villa in Tuscany breeds multiple experiences,
Of man-made scenery in valleys and hillsides,
Of red-tiled roofs in centuries-old habitations,
Of dark, silent churches lit by devotional candles.
Tuscany is a mixture of ancient and modern.
Route 70 is being widened to four lanes
On the plain between Poppi and Bibbiena.
The mountain road to Eremo was etched by the monks
in the eleventh century.
Neighbors in the country build high fences around their fields,
Letting their dogs run loose to bark at the perimeter,
Reminding us of their ancestors in castles and walled towns
Who butchered their neighbors in the name of religion.
The people are dour and suspicious of strangers.
Expressionless, averting their eyes from one another,
Chattering endlessly in a sharp-tongued dialect,
Impatient at having to wait in queues.
The owner of the villa is an absentee.
He entrusts all his dealings with the guests to a maintenance man
Who speaks no English, and demands the balance due in cash.
We scramble to cash travelers checks and hit the ATMs.
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